Family heirloom recovered from bottom of Lake Hartwell after Portman Marina dock fire

The boat named Mar-Be-Gln (FOX Carolina)

A family heirloom resurfaced after 15 days under water.

After a generator exploded on dock 6 at the Portman Marina in May, the flames quickly spread to an antique boat and it sank to the bottom of Lake Hartwell.

The bubbles started rising and as the boat surfaced, Glenn Warnock was a wreck.

"There aren't really words,” Warnock said. “I was just numb."

It was numbing to see his hard work destroyed by flames. He was numb at the thought of the photos and mementos that went down with the boat. It's a flashback, but not a welcome one.

"It was just like someone hit me in the stomach with a baseball bat,” Warnock said. “I couldn't breathe."

He said all he can think about is his father and the years they spent outside perfecting the boat.

"Father would come home for lunch and we’d work on it at lunchtime and weekends," Warnock recalled.

That's where he learned about hard work and he said they were side by side six and a half years later when they first put it to the test.

"We launched it May 17, 1963,” Warnock said. “It’s been in constant service ever since. Fifty-five years."

Warnock has 55 years of memories, but the ones with his dad stopped in 1974.

"Everything I did, every improvement I made and all the maintenance I did, was all to keep him happy," Warnock said.

He said all the work he did was to honor his father's legacy and the dream they built together, but when a generator exploded just a slip away, Warnock knew his boat didn't stand a chance.

"I couldn't even stand up,” Warnock said. “I just sat on the ground, I couldn't even remain standing."

He watched the boat sink. The family name, Mar-Be-Glenn, pressed against the muck at the bottom of the lake.

"My sister's name is Marcia, my mothers name is Betty and my dad and I are both Glenn,” Warnock said. “So that's how it came out."

The boat resurfaced 15 days later, almost unrecognizable, even boarded up so nothing will fall out. As Warnock looks over the damage he sees the way the boat touched countless lives.

"My two best friends had their first dates with their wives onboard that boat and they are still married to this day,” Warnock said.

It may soon be gone, but he said it's impossible to say goodbye to the project that shaped him into a man.

"I'm still numb because I lost a huge part of my life,” Warnock said. “It was a family heirloom."

Warnock said the boat is also part of Lake Hartwell history. It was the first big boat ever on the lake and the fourth boat in the Portman marina when it first opened in 1963.

Copyright 2018 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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